Our diets affect all of our skin. There are a number of super-foods that can help fight acne breakouts thanks to their high concentration of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and other acne-fighting nutrients. Eating whole and healthy foods year round — especially during cold winter months can drastically improve an acne prone skin. Here’s a list of some of the best foods you can eat to get you on the path of flawless skin that is free of pimples and acne scars:
Fish is a great source of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, says Rachelle Wood, registered holistic nutritionist in Charlottetown P.E.I. These acids help reduce inflammation in our bodies that can trigger cells to clog pores and potentially cause acne. Wood recommends eating more salmon, mackerel and sardines to fight blemishes.
Blueberries are one of the greatest health foods of all time, and they can be an excellent remedy for acne vulgaris. The antioxidant properties of wild blueberries were shown to be even stronger than those of cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, plums, or cultivated blueberries. In addition to their unrivalled antioxidant powers, blueberries are a good source of pectin which helps clear intestinal toxins that may contribute to acne flare-ups. Furthermore, compared to other berries, blueberries (especially wild blueberries) are a good source of vitamin E.
“Deficiencies in minerals such as zinc and selenium have been linked to acne in some sufferers,” says Wood. Most nuts contain selenium, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium and iron, which are all essential for healthy skin.
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables and an excellent addition to your anti-acne diet. Although they taste sweet, sweet potatoes have a relatively low glycemic rating. Further, the pink, orange, and yellow varieties are one of the most concentrated food sources of beta-carotene (the more intense the color, the more beta-carotene). They also contain a great amount of vitamin C.
This tasty green fruit, rich in vitamin E, can also increase your skin’s vitality, Wood says. Avocado is also a good source of vitamin C, which can reduce skin inflammation and naturally moisturize the skin.
Green tea has long been touted for its weight loss promoting properties, but recent scientific evidence suggests that the health benefits of green tea are not limited to weight loss benefits; green tea may also be helpful for treating acne and other skin conditions. A specific polyphenol found in green tea (the so-called (-)epigallocatechin-3-gallate) has been shown to modulate the production and actions of androgens and other hormones. Consequently, it has been hypothesized it could be useful for the treatment of hormone-related acne breakouts. Green tea is also thought to have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, which may help improve acne. To maximize the release of the (-)epigallocatechin-3-gallate, choose loose tea leaves instead of tea bags and let the tea steep for five minutes.
And yes, you can eat the seeds. “The fruit and seed contain powerful natural chemicals and antioxidants that have been shown to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema,” Wood says.On top of this, grapes can also help to control the side effects of allergic reactions on skin.
Most people know that carrots aid eyesight, but they are also great for treating acne. These low glycemic veggies are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A has been shown to exert positive effects on acne sufferers, probably due to its ability to affect the inflammatory aspects of acne. Further, carrots are believed to have detoxifying properties and to enhance the immune system which allows your body both to fight acne before pimples occur and to help you skin recover from an acne breakout.
If you’re looking for the perfect natural skin cleanser, eat fennel. This licorice-tasting root vegetable can improve digestion, reduce swelling and help to flush out excess fluids and toxins in your skin, Wood says.
If you are not put off by their pungent odor and flavor, cilantro leaves (also known as Chinese or Mexican parsley) can be a great addition to your anti-acne diet. They contain fair amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin E and are thought to help control blood sugar and to fight free radicals. Evidence also suggests that they may have anti-inflammatory as well as anti-microbial properties.
Artichoke is a good source of antioxidants and full of Vitamin C. “This fibrous green vegetable helps to remove toxins from the body, making it a great addition for a healthy skin diet,” she says.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that spearmint and peppermint can help control acne breakouts in some people. These positive effects may be explained by the ability of spearmint and peppermint to affect hormone levels. In Turkey, researchers found that women who consumed a cup of spearmint tea twice a day for five days had reduced levels free active testosterone in the blood.
Brown rice is a rich source of vitamin B, protein, magnesium, and several antioxidants, Wood says. For acne, vitamin B acts as our skin’s stress fighter, which will help regulate hormones levels and prevent the likelihood of breakouts.
Romaine Romaine lettuce is one of the best dietary sources of chromium. Eating romaine lettuce may help prevent pimples and control acne flare-ups due to its high chromium content. Chromium has been shown to be capable of stabilizing blood sugar levels. This is good news because excessive sugar in blood stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Physically active people, people who drink lots of coffee or tea, and people who consume high amounts of sugar have an elevated risk of being deficient in chromium. The absorption of chromium from romaine lettuce is believed to be particularly good because of the vitamin C it contains. Vitamin C in romaine lettuce is known to enhance the absorption of chromium.
Garlic is another superfood that helps fight inflammation. “Garlic is full of a naturally occurring chemical called allicin, which kills off many harmful bacteria and viruses your body might be fighting,” Wood says.
Oats are a good source of zinc for people with acne vulgaris because they are low in iodine unlike many other food sources of zinc. The acne fighting properties of zinc are believed to result from its ability to reduce inflammation and to kill bacteria associated with acne. Furthermore, zinc plays a role in protein synthesis and in collagen formation, both of which are necessary for maintaining healthy skin. Zinc has also been shown to be able to significantly reduce sebum production on the surface of the skin. Zinc is necessary for converting beta-carotene to vitamin A. To boost the nutritional value of oats, soak them for several hours before eating.
Broccoli is the perfect skin clearing food. It contains health building properties like vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K. “These antioxidants fight radical damage which will assist with the luminosity of your skin,” Wood says.
Apples keep acne away. Apples contain pectin, a type of dietary fiber that absorbs toxins and pushes them through the colon fast. As most of the pectin is in the skin, it is best to buy organic apples so that you can eat them unpeeled. In addition to pectin, apples are a good source of bioflavonoids and vitamins which help maintain skin health.
Yes, they may look a little like grass, but these sprouts are packed with valuable, skin-clearing nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts contain live enzymes which help fight inflammation, Wood says.
Barley is one of the best grains to consume if your skin is prone to acne breakouts as it has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) rating of all common grains. Carbs that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and cause a rapid, large rise in blood glucose levels, which in turn generally triggers the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. In contrast, low-GI carbs, which take much longer to digest, cause only a small, slow rise in the blood glucose and insulin levels (dairy products are an exception; see discussion below). Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy, but excess insulin in the bloodstream can lead to a sharp increase in circulating androgen and insulin-like growth factor, which are associated with acne.
Due to their extremely high content of beta-carotene, mustard greens are thought to fight acne by affecting the inflammatory aspects of this skin condition. They may also help control sebum production that makes skin oily. Further, mustard greens contain vitamin E. Mustard greens with their distinctly peppery flavor are available throughout the year and can be found in the produce section of your local supermarket.